Last night, after David put Lucia to sleep and drifted off himself, I was thinking of the time a bird pooped on my mom's head. I know what you are thinking: "Real deep thoughts you have in your private time, Mandi." But I promise, this is going somewhere.
My mom was dropping me off at school. I must have had a dentist appointment or something because my mom had to walk in with me (normally, she just pulled up in the carpool line and I got out on my own). Anyway, we were walking in and it just happened. All of a sudden, my mom's hair was covered in poop. The bird got her good. And I remember my mom laughed about it and got a napkin out of her car and just wiped what she could out of her hair (the napkin really didn't do much good). Then she walked me in.
|a likely offender|
I don't know what happened after that - did she go home and shower or go straight to work? But what I do know was that she handled it with such poise. She laughed it off. She didn't act disgusted. She wasn't embarrassed. She just was.
That's what I thought adults were like - calm, undisturbed, and able to handle anything. I think of that now and my goodness, I hope I'm not the only adult that feels the complete opposite of that! Growing up, I always thought there was this magic age when you just had it together and yet I always seemed to never get there. When I was in middle school, high school students were so smart and confident and sure of their future. Then when I got to high school, I felt so awkward and unsure and self-conscious.
I've felt like that at every step of my life. In college, I didn't feel like a college student. In my first teaching job, I didn't feel like a teacher. In some ways, I've lived my entire life feeling like an imposter. I keep waiting for someone to find out that I'm not really supposed to be there, to notice that I don't really have what it takes.
It wasn't until recently that I realized there are many other people out there that feel exactly the same way. No matter what they've done to get to where they are, they always second guess that that is where they are meant to be.
I turn 27 this weekend. But in my mind, that's impossible. Isn't a 27 year old well into adulthood? Yet I still don't feel like an adult much of the time. I'm afraid of so many things. I don't have my act together. I never know what to do in difficult situations. I am still so insecure. I'm not sure I even know who I am. I can't even tell you if I'm an introvert or an extrovert! Clearly, I'm not really an adult. I look like an adult. (I'm rarely even carded anymore. Boo.) But I can't be one. This isn't what adults are like, right?
Then I think back to my day yesterday. Lucia is sick. Again. As I was putting her down for a nap, she suddenly sat up and puked all over our bed. I comforted her. I took off her clothes. I stripped the bed and got everything into the wash. Lucia got a bath. I got her down for nap. In the moment, I performed. I did what needed to be done. I didn't hesitate or stress. I was an adult.
If a bird pooped in my hair, I don't know if I would have the same good humor my mom did. But if Lucia needed to get into school, I would walk right up the the front desk with bird poop in my hair. To my little girl, I would look like a fearless, unflappable adult.
Is there a way to break this cycle? How can I teach my daughter that adults are vulnerable too so that when she is an adult she can be confident in her self? How do I teach her that I am still learning and growing, that I'm not always confident and that's okay, while at the same time providing her with a solid sense of security?
I'm honored to be a new contributor at Faith in All Times, a website for Catholic women struggling with infertility and miscarriage. You can see my contributor profile here and read my first essay, "Finding God in Modern Medicine" here.